East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fearless: Through a glass Jet Li

China/Hong Kong/USA 2006
Starring Jet Li, Zhao Zhigang, Betty Sun Li, Dong Yong
Written by Chris Chow and Christine To
Directed by Ronny Yu

I know you hate movies bloated beyond necessity, but honestly, inflating wuxia has its benefits: the pumped-up production makes the punches crunch in the Yuen Wo Ping-designed style-clash fights, and at this historical moment, I find the token moralism inserted to soothe the global audience's conscience refreshing. You do need a hero who can hold his own in widescreen, and Li, as Huo Yuanjia, certainly fits the bill, even if he's chronically unable to play romantic -- he often chats with his dead dad, while barely mentioning his dead wife. The aforementioned token moralism teaches Huo that ruins results from fights caused by one's ego, one's drunkeness and even, to some extent, one's defence of the family name. Blood feuds suck because you don't want your family dragged into it, but also because you don't want your enemy's family dragged into it -- a view more balanced than, say, Munich's.

Since blood feuds produce the best dust-ups, the second half of the movie, consisting in large part of blind village girl Moon (Sun) showing Huo the chilled-out way of life, doesn't match the first. This is a Jet Li joint, so Huo unfortunately doesn't resume fighting to raise money for an operation to restore Moon's sight, but because the Chinese really get neurotic about foreigners making fun of them. Even racial nationalism, however, is secondary to good old martial chivalry -- after you've beaten the white boys. We like to kid ourselves that the Japanese understand.


  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said…

    If he follows on the threat to stop making epic films, the world will really be the loser ... I didn't think Ronny Yu could deliver a movie this good!


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